News Column

'Tuned In' review: Neil Finn's 'Dizzy Heights' cautiously comforts

February 4, 2014

By Chuck Campbell, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn.

Feb. 04 -- Neil Finn is making art of middle-age angst. The New Zealander famous for his work last century in the bands Split Enz and Crowded House is now pondering life with the perspective of a 55-year-old on his new " Dizzy Heights ." He's got good company -- wife Sharon on bass, son Liam on guitar and son Elroy on drums. Plus co-producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Weezer, MGMT) adds all manner of experimentation and kick, while string arrangements bring stylish subtlety. Although the tracks fit snugly into the adult alternative realm, there's ongoing tension to keep listeners on their toes. Restlessness comes by way of production nuance and Finn's contemplations, and the swaggering blues of opener "Impressions" ("Got to make a good impression") and the ecstatic feel of the subsequent title track give way to underlying uneasiness as " Dizzy Heights " carries on. Within the inviting funk of "Flying in the Face of Love," Finn takes stock of life with lines like "How does it feel to be wrong?" He ominously notes, "There's only one way down" in the hallucination of "Divebomber," and "Strangest Friends" has the disconcerting feel of seasoned, sedated glam rock. At least there's offsetting romance in the lush "Better Than TV," where Finn offers, "If there is a chance that you wanted to dance, wanted to sing, don't die wondering." Yet darkness dominates the neurotic "In My Blood" ("How I wish I could do this again," he sighs) and the claustrophobic "Recluse," where Finn admits, "I make any excuse to stay home" as he mulls watching "Game of Thrones" and wondering what's on next. There are electronic jabs and glitches to go along with the lyrical barbs, but overall the music is soothing, working in tandem with Finn's sugary voice to lure the audience into contentedness. Just don't get too comfortable. Rating: 4 stars (out of five) ___ (c)2014 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)

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